About ABA

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science which seeks to understand and improve human behavior. ABA bases assessment and treatment of human behavior upon observable behavior and its relationship to environmental variables. ABA consists of defining the behavior of concern, measuring relevant dimension(s) of the behavior prior to the beginning of treatment and then implementation of experimentally based ABA principles and procedures to affect behavior change. Changes in target behavior then result in an improvement in the learner’s quality of life. ABA is data driven and research based with over 50 years of supporting research.

The basic unit of analysis utilized by behavior analysts is referred to as a three term contingency. This three term contingency is comprised of environmental events or changes which precede the behavior (antecedents), the behavior of interest (behavior), and the changes in the environment which follow the behavior of interest (consequences). By analyzing and treating behavior using this three term contingency, the behavior analyst is able to assess and change environmental variables in order to affect positive behavior change.

Examples of 3 Term Contingency




Precedes or “triggers” the behavior of interest.

Behavior of interest may be a behavior to increase or a behavior to decrease.

Determines if the behavior will increase or decrease.

Antecedent Examples

Behavior Examples

Consequence Examples

Parent says, “Clean up your toys.”

Child goes to toys & says, “I’m still playing!”

Child delays or avoids cleaning up.

New food present, parent says, “Take a bite.”

Child takes a bite of the new food.

Parent says, “Good job! You may have dessert tonight!”

Teacher presents a difficult worksheet.

Student says, “My tummy hurts, I need to call my mom to come get me.”

Teacher sends the student to the nurse.